It all started with a big bang. No, I’m not referring to the universe as we now know it. I’m talking about the time I tried to drive my Toyota Sequoia into my standard-size garage with a kayak on its roof.
It was a very BIG BANG. Ya, I know…it won’t fit!
I was driving home after a long kayak ride and I was tired…and I’d been in the car for a couple of hours, and, well…I just plain forgot the kayak was on my roof! Turns out the homes in my neighborhood are not quite as sound proof as I thought. And, like what happens when you step on a fire ant pile, after the “big bang”, people flooded out of their homes to see what the ruckus was about.
Embarrassed, I jumped out of the car and yelled, “I’m ok” but I don’t think they were really that worried about me. Not physically, anyway. Though they may have been concerned over my mental state at the time. And, frankly, I was too. I was distraught over the fact that my beloved kayak was badly hurt – and looked like it might have to be trashed.
Years ago, while presenting a program on stress management, someone shared how their motorcycle was a stress reliever. He said, “There’s nothing too serious that a tank of gas can’t take care of.” And, I knew what he meant. When I got stressed, I’d push that kayak of mine into the water and paddle for hours – and come back feeling totally renewed. So you can image my pain when I saw a 12 inch gash in my good friend.
The good news is that I was able to locate a shop that does plastic surgery on kayaks so my kayak is now once again sea worthy. It’s just that it now has this HUGE ugly scar – and forever I’ll be answering the question from gawkers, “Ewww…what happened to your kayak?” I need to come up with a good story…maybe something about a 12 foot gator…ya, that’s a good one! I mean, I do live in Florida, right? So, don’t tell anyone the truth, ok? It will be our little secret.
Do You Have a Scar, Too?
But, it’s not just my kayak that has an ugly scar. Chances are you do, too. I’ve got a few myself. And, I’m not talking just about a physical scar. I’m talking about the internal scars all of us have earned as we go through life…scars caused by our life experiences that have forever changed us.
Have you ever looked closely at your scars? A lot of people don’t. They try to keep it a secret. But, our scars really aren’t any secret to the people that are close to us. They may not understand them, but they certainly recognize when a scar is present.
Let me give you an example. Decades ago, I was in my first serious relationship. I so much looked forward to seeing him – that is, until he greeted me at the door with, “Hi, how was your day?” I know…that’s pretty innocuous, right? But, as soon as he said it, my mood would change and I would snap something back. When it happened again and again, with other relationships, I realized that I had some scar related to those words, “How was your day?” I started to journal about this.
All About Journaling
There are lots of ways to journal, but for me, journaling is about putting all my random thoughts on a piece of paper without editing and without picking up the pen for 15-20 minutes. To stimulate my thoughts, I often start with the “who, what, why, where, when, how” questions – asking, “Who used to say ‘hi, how was your day’? When did they say it? Where did they say it?”
After several journaling sessions, I recalled my mom saying these exact words as I walked into our new house back in the 8th grade. So, I called up Mom and asked, “Mom, what happened when I was in the 8th grade?” She started in with, “Well, that was the year we moved into the new house. And as you know, I stayed home with all nine of you kids – until everyone was in school, then I went back to work as a nurse on the 3-11 shift.”
Then I remembered the whole story. The junior high bus was the earliest so I was the only one home before Mom rushed off to work. She always greeted me with, “Hi, how was your day?” and without waiting for a response, she’d rush into a tirade of commands about who had appointments, what was for dinner, and things I had to do or thing I had to remember to tell others.
Now you can imagine what “Hi, how was your day?” meant to me many years later! It meant, “I don’t have time to listen to how your day was, but here’s a list of things I need you to do.”
Once I realized where that scar was coming from, I was able to completely dissociate current greetings from that scar from the past. What about you? What are your emotional scars? When you see yourself over reacting (or others say you are over reacting), try to figure out where that pain comes from. When you do, you will stop experiencing the pain and start healing. And, like your physical scars that diminish over time, your emotional scars will, too.